The request to see the document came from Samsung’s lawyers earlier this week, as they were almost certain Apple had licensed patents to HTC that it had refused to license to them. The offending patents refer to Apple’s core user experience, which Samsung was told were not for sale.
This has already turned out to be only partially true — it may depend on whether Apple considers you a threat or not — and should they be included in HTC’s deal, it could be important ammunition for Samsung to use in its forthcoming hearing, where Apple seeks to ban eight of the Korean manufacturers’ devices from sale.
Apple and HTC have been ordered to produce the settlement agreement, however it will be for “attorneys’ eyes only,” meaning we won’t get to hear all the details. According to fosspatents.com, HTC wanted the financial details held back, a passage that amounted to 33 words, and this request has been partially fulfilled, as it’s only Samsung’s lawyers who will read the entire document.
Although we won’t get to see even the redacted version of the settlement agreement, fosspatents.com also discovered a heavily censored public version, in which 90-percent of the text was blacked out. It did contain one interesting detail though, which is should HTC have a change of ownership, the licensing deal will die. A handy clause should Samsung try to solve its problems with an acquisition.
So, is this latest twist in the ongoing Samsung/Apple legal battle important? An analysts from consultancy firm Frost and Sullivan, who spoke to the BBC, thinks so; saying “It’s clearly a very smart move from Samsung, because the general feeling is that a lot of its patent disputes with Apple are very likely to be similar to those between HTC and Apple.”
If this turns out to be true, Samsung could gain an advantage in its forthcoming hearing on December 6, and Apple may have to start to reconsider its legal strategy.